PORTLAND — Fikiria Makerspace has launched a project to employ immigrants and make cloth masks for vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial batch of 250 masks will be stitched by women originally from Iraq and Pakistan and will be donated to Portland’s General Assistance Office. An additional 250 masks will be donated to Portland mosques for distribution to elders in the Muslim community.

Hannaford’s Community Development and its Diversity and Inclusion Committee provided the initial donation of $5,000 to cover the first production run of 500 masks, which were designed by Betsey Scheintaub, a textile professor at Maine College of Art who is overseeing production. The material for the masks was donated by UniFirst.

Fikiria, located in the Threads of Hope store at 1107 Brighton Ave., “is hopeful that the community will want to keep the project going by helping to cover the wages and sewing supply costs associated with making additional masks,” a press release said.

Donations can be made at www.fikiriamaine.org.